As an organization of national governance in a democratic society, the Republican Party no longer exists. As a cabal determined to dominate government at all levels, it is very much alive.
A single, oft-cited statistic makes this clear. The Republican Party has won the popular vote in only one of the past eight presidential elections (That number is actually misleading, if not incorrect). Yet the party has occupied the White House for three terms during this period. In 2000, the Democratic presidential candidate, Al Gore, won the national popular vote by approximately 525,000 votes. Victory in the Electoral College went to George W. Bush by a contested majority of 537 votes in Florida. A recount authorized by the Florida State Supreme Court, in whose jurisdiction the election resided, was halted when a Republican-dominated U.S. Supreme Court usurped it, thus effectively declaring the Republican candidate, George W. Bush, the victor by Florida’s winner-take-all Electoral College votes system. Bush was narrowly reelected over John Kerry four years later; however, had Gore been the incumbent, and absent Bush’s disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Gore would likely have won reelection.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump by some 2.9 million popular votes, only to lose the presidential election in four narrowly contested states after a campaign in which Trump openly solicited the support of a hostile foreign power, Russia, which promptly provided it. Such a solicitation was statutorily illegal, not to say seditious. The Republican Party did not withdraw its nomination of Trump, nor did Barack Obama’s Justice Department challenge it.
In 2020, Joe Biden defeated Trump’s bid for reelection by 7.2 million popular votes, and an indisputable Electoral College majority. Trump immediately rejected the result, claiming that the election had been “stolen” from him by a plot that involved mail fraud, ballot stuffing, voting machine manipulation and dead voter balloting. More than sixty courts across the country found no evidence of electoral irregularity that would have affected the outcome of any state contest. In Georgia, where Trump claimed that 10,000 dead voters had cast ballots, election officials, investigating the claim, found submissions on behalf of two.
Undeterred, Trump and his agents put together slates of false Electoral College electors—electors not officially designated by the two major parties—in seven states, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Wisconsin. Who were these electors? In Pennsylvania, with its twenty Electoral College votes, they included, among others, a former Congressman, Lou Barletta; Andy Reilly, national committee chairperson for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania; Sam De Marco III, chair of the Allegheny County Republican Committee; Pat Poprik, chair of the Bucks County Republican Conference; Marcela Diaz-Myers, former President of the Pennsylvania Republican Hispanic Advisory Council; Josephine Ferro; former President of the Pennsylvania Federation of Republican Women; and Kevin Harley, former spokesperson for ex-Governor Tom Corbett—in short, officeholders and titled officials of the state Republican Party. Almost all the remainder were Republican lobbyists and operatives. Some Republicans did decline membership on the false slate, but not a single prominent Republican challenged the slate itself, the appropriate process for choosing which ought to have been well known to them. Those actual electors met, as prescribed by law, to certify Joe Biden’s election on December 14, 2020. The false electors met the same day to declare Donald Trump the elected president instead, and sent their own tally to Congress. No Congressional Republican challenged or decried this act, in Pennsylvania or any of the other false elector states. Had they done so, Trump would have had no opportunity to demand that Mike Pence reject the legitimate electors that had already sent their certifications of Biden to Congress in the targeted states.
In short, Congressional Republicans had effectively invited the false electors into their chamber, subject only to Pence recognizing them. There might still have been an insurrection on January 6, but no false Electoral College votes, only the genuine ones already cast and counted and simply waiting to be announced.
In the event, when the rioters set upon the Capitol by Trump had been dispersed and the Electoral College vote resumed, an overwhelming number of House Republicans with a smattering of Republican senators (147 in all) voted against accepting the certified election of Joe Biden. They voted, in short, against the winner of a free and fair election, and thereby to nullify the will of the American people. They voted against democracy itself, even in the tortured form of an Electoral College which has five times negated the national popular presidential vote. They voted against their own legitimacy as representatives of the people. Nor, with a few exceptions, have they reversed themselves since.
To this day, although these rebel Republicans have passed legislation to be signed by Biden and approved Cabinet, diplomatic and other appointments submitted by him, they have not recognized him as President of the United States. One wonders why Biden himself recognized Kevin McCarthy, who, having first as Minority Leader of the House of Representatives and now as Speaker refused to publicly acknowledge him as president, as a partner in negotiating the recent raising of the national debt limit. If McCarthy hasn’t recognized Biden’s own title to office, why should Biden recognize his—and, for that matter, how can McCarthy himself negotiate with a non-president? Trump aside, we find ourselves in a constitutional crisis, not to say charade.
Falsely challenging an election is not a Trump novelty; it has been part of the Republican playbook for a long time. In 1993, an obscure one-time Republican ward leader in Philadelphia, Mike Roman, sued on behalf of a special election Senate loser, Bruce Marks, alleging ballot interference. The claim was false, but a federal judge upheld it and declared Marks the winner. This attracted attention, and Roman, working himself up the Republican ranks as a fraudster, organized Trump’s elector scheme in 2020 (he is now under congressional investigation). Trump, anticipating defeat in the 2016 election, declared it to be fraudulent not only before, but after winning it, a tactic he revived in 2020. Indeed, The Donald knows whereof he speaks in the larger sense, having admitted in 2018 that the Republican Party would never win a national election without falsehood and chicanery. Truth has never been Trump’s strong point, but he spoke it there, at least as far as presidential elections since 1988 are concerned.
How, then, does Trump himself maintain his apparent stranglehold over the Republican Party? It is not by personal victory; he was defeated in the national popular vote both in 2016 and 2020, and the candidates he endorsed in gubernatorial and Congressional offices in 2022 were for the most part soundly defeated. What he does have, however, is a dedicated and at the moment growing base of disgruntled Republican and crossover Independent voters who channel the inchoate rage he gives voice to about the direction of American society and the corruption of its core institutions. Whatever his personal fate may be legally and politically, that rage will await the next demagogue to exploit.
Editors Note: In the story sent at: 10.05.2023 22:30
. This is corrected repeat.